New vision to advance NRL’s cause
Increasing club squads to 36 players to allow for rookie contracts, putting an age limit on senior debuts and restructuring the National Youth Competition are part of the NRL's blueprint designed to take the game forward and prevent player burnout.
Drawn up by the head of Game Strategy and Development Shane Richardson, the new strategies include:
Increasing the size of NRL squads to 36 players - including six rookies
Restricting players from making their NRL debuts until the year they turn 19, with no player able to be signed with an agent until he is 17 and any contracts for these players to be for a maximum three-year term
Restructuring the National Youth Competition into a state-based under-20 competition
Introducing rookie contracts for the start of the 2018 season with each club allowed to sign three each year on two-year contracts
Revamping the State League into a Platinum League to spread the footprint of the competition into all the areas that play league
Easing player welfare with additional leave, creating a formal international window over an eight-year period and reducing five-day turnarounds.
Richardson said phasing out the NYC and payments for under-18 players - along with a new business model for the second tier - would save NRL clubs $20 million alone.
"This is an exciting time for the game," he said. "Most importantly, we have started a discussion about the way forward and that has to be a positive start for the game."